Canto 4: Mythomemes

Surely it is not the poets that are responsible for what happens
But Zeus himself, who deals with each of us toilers on earth as he sees fit


Birth of Faith

Man is his own star: & the soul that can
Render an honest & a perfect man
Commands all light, all influence, all fate
John Fletcher

Man sits & shivers in the golden stream
Of fresh intelligence, O shiny leaf!
His delightful capacity to dream
Shall to the visionaries pin belief;
Speech primitive
Discusses bird & beast,
While offerings votive prelude the fruitful feast.

Enacting ancyent vaudeville
Orchestrates a cooing crew,
Who place the face of every kill
Upon a headless statue,
Dark, bloody meat roasts on the grill,
Around the fire they drew
Drumming & chanting in a magic trance,
As if them Korybantes at the dance.

This was the moment marvellous
To make a man-made mead;
Salubrius, luxurious,
Stuff which religions need,
The liquer call’d ambrosia on which all Godheads feed.

10,000 BC



What precious things are you making fast
In all these silken lines ?
& where & to whom will it go at last
James Thomson

From lakes of ash destruction rose the Gods;
From power comes respect, & with this love,
The one thing that connects we anthropods
With all the majesty of those above;
From litanies,
To crude cults of the dead,
Scuttling theologies across our planet sped.

Of these beings form’d contingent,
Huddl’d in epicentres,
On Asia’s great sub-continent
Rose the perfect spiritus
Know Brahma! Soul most sentient
Born from navel lotus,
Beside him, as life’s swarming cells divide,
A pantheon strode forth, & multiplied.

Of all the Hindu deities
Tis Kali we must fear;
As Bharatas, vainglorious,
In battle disappear,
Life hears Vyasa’s saga sung in temples sweet & clear.

3102 BC


Sun God

He surfaces. A screel at first light.
He is alone and at leisure. He is
talking to himself, pecking at the waterfall
Nitoo Das

Like Coonor Colonel, post ‘forty-seven,’
Remaining in the Raj to reap full worth
From former glories, his hard-won heaven,
One born of stars lingers too long on Earth;
By holy Nile
Commingling with Mankind,
Who, fawning & servile, croon, ‘’Sire, do please be kind!’

Round Heliopolis night slows…
Dawning day… an avatar
Daub’d in finery, more fragrant rose
Than Phaeroe… see florid Ra,
Strike solid, adamantine pose,
Some gallivanting star,
Come every day dispelling dismal dark
By rainbow barge, sky-soaring in an arc.

He teaches us papyryses,
How best to harvest wine,
Shu, Osiris, Tefnut, Isis,
Descend from him divine,
For each a pointed pyramid to dream, & dance, & dine.

2,500 BC



This is what you get for begging to be
chosen: every god in the universe eyeing
you through the clouds like a hot wound
Vandana Khanna

Knossos sits where European thought
Has sought a font, the old Harruppan mind
Thro’ Hyksos necromancer-secrets taught
In detail of how deities design’d;
Minoan born,
Hariya weds for Crete,
With Keret, in the corn, their seed-time passion sweet.

Siring the peerless Jupiter,
Him no soul could dare neglect,
With a BOOM he brings us terror,
With a kiss he can protect,
One of them who live forever,
As long as this proud sect
Pays heed to all the prayer-needs of faith,
Else fade them to the shades each jaded wraith.

O best of Gods, thy golden scales
Our destinies suspend;
Lord of the gales, thy hard-flung hails
& storm-bolts that ye send
Roar over us, ‘til glorious thy softer swells ascend!

1600 BC



My thoughts are as a garden plot, that knows
No rain but of thy giving, & no rose
Except thy name. I dedicate it thine

A love of Rhea’s handsome son will spread
Across the waves to where the Argives dwell,
The banded Titans think of him with dread
& fortify their mountains, where they yell;
”This is our land
& for it we shall fight!”
Then stand, weapons in hand, a megaron of might.

As at them jagged boulders thrown
The firmament was shaking,
The sun went dark, the earth did groan,
Fork’d lightning forests raking,
Piebald invader blew his horn,
Mercifuls foresaking,
He bounden them in chains & cast them low
Below the Earth, ten killers on death row.

The conqueror takes up his seat
& there begins to breed,
A task complete, the Twelve compete
For faith on which they feed,
But in all things shall Seuserenre  ever take the lead.

1400 BC
Mount Olympus



What am I? a God or Man?
Man is God when great and rich —
God is man when in the ditch
Hume Nisbet

Above the puny jarrings of the world
Olympus of innumerable folds
Reflects the melting moon, whose peaks, snow-pearl’d
With frozen happiness, shed Heaven’s gold;
Flings stars oer divine heads,
Frolicking together, luxuriant, on beds.

While Vulcan stokes eternal fire
Of constant, cooking casket,
Venus fills deity desire
& thrills them ‘neath her blanket,
The Lord Apollo plucks his lyre
& his Muses thank it,
To play them songs the seasons’ sweetly bring;
Summer, Winter, Autumn, & the Spring.

Farsunk below that mantl’d stone
Old Hades hews his halls;
At first alone until the groan
Of death releases souls,
Them to his kingdom lumbering as leaf quite lifeless falls.




Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference
Robert Frost

We mortals are the Gods’ unwilling toys,
They treat us with a fickleness & play
With softling lives, ‘til waking fate employs
The true direction to a human day;
The best of us
These higher lives defy,
Lives like wild chimeras & diamonds in the sky.

Sailing east with famous Jason
On the quest to fetch the fleece,
He fought the birds Stymphalian
Sharply tasking over Greece,
Wrestling the lion Nemean
At last his trials cease,
Tall stood upon the cusp of further fame,
No beast on Earth this god-man could not tame.

Light lifts him up from pointed pyre,
One by his own hands made,
Before the fire could flicker’d high
Oer lead limbs limply laid,
Zeus knighted him Olympian, imputed to the grade.



Forbidden Fruit

Where is her light? her crown? her ornaments?
Her chain of love? her peace? her puritie?
Her fruitfull gardens? her fair continents?
Sir William Mure

With flash of awe best stories are begun;
Upon immortal Mount Olympus dwell
The brightest members of that pantheon
Which binds all mortal motion to its spell;
Our fable falls,
Where Jupiter resides,
Thro’ Heaven’s gleaming halls a golden apple glides.

Upon its deep, dawn-colour’d skin
Was written, “For the finest!”
Three goddesses desir’d the win,
Much smitten by the contest,
Their chatter made a magpie din
To find out who was bless’d,
With Beauty’s art, more than the other two,
Says Jupiter, “I know what you must do!

Seek out a pure & mortal youth
To cure thy bickering,
His choice, I sooth, rare voice of truth,
Shall judge this siren spring,
Alas, I sense these strange events shall violence to us bring!”



The Judgement of Paris

The stately Juno stalk’d, to reach the Seat,
And hear the Sentence in the last Debate,
And long, severely long resent the Grove
Thomas Parnell

They crambl’d Earth, searching rare quality
Which fortifies a man from lustful thought,
Noble enough to love a true beauty,
Give honest answers to opinions sought;
Just one was found,
A handsome Prince of Troy;
Three goddesses drew round, seductive, sweet & coy….

“Tell, prithee, Paris, which of us,
Fairer than fairest flower?”
Minerva offer’d genius,
While Juno promis’d power,
“If I am chosen,” quiff’s Venus,
“The roseate bower
Of womanhood shall spread across thy mind –
When you may pluck the fairest of your kind!”

“Then thee I choose…” from Venus flew
Helen’s bright araura,
The other two disdainful grew,
Grating with displeasure,
“She waits for you!” sings Venus, “In Lacedaemonia!”

1274 BC

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